On the first day of Welcome Week freshman year, the world is full of possibilities. For many students, coming to college symbolizes the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another — one based on new experiences that inspire both excitement and fear. Yet what we may not have realized at first is that the moment our feet hit campus, a clock begins to tick. In truth, we have only a few short years to make our impact on the University of Michigan before we must pass along our legacy to the next generation of Wolverines.
In some ways, college can feel simply like a transition. It’s the period of time that connects us from a past, shaped by the households and high schools from which we came, to a future shaped by our own goals and ambition. Although it can sometimes be difficult, within this dichotomy of past and future, it’s crucial that we remain conscious of and actively engage in the present, especially in issues whose consequences reach beyond any one individual.
As students at the University, we have a wealth of resources at our fingertips. These resources come in many forms and can be furnished as tools to help further any cause. MForward is a Michigan Student Assembly party formed on the principle of fostering a diverse and active student body, one whose needs and interests vary greatly and add to the energy of the campus community. The current candidates, including myself, hope to preserve this above all else as advocates and facilitators of student activism. From MForward’s perspective, our most important resources are each other.
Advocacy, however, especially as defined in the context of student government, depends upon a foundation of engagement from those who participate in and benefit from it. Engagement in this democratic process, in turn, depends upon the simplest, easiest and most important form of involvement. Yes, I’m referring to voting.
As the former chair of the University’s chapter of College Democrats, I’m sure many of you have seen me chasing students across the Diag in order to make sure that they are registered to vote. Perhaps you yourself have suffered through the 30-second tutorial of how to fill out the form or were asked repeatedly if you knew the exact location of your polling place. Needless to say, I’ve always had a strong commitment to making sure that students have a voice in choosing everyone who represents them, and when I say everyone, I mean it.
Everyone includes your representatives on MSA. The online polling site makes voting for your peers even easier than voting in government elections. With two days to fill out your ballot, there is really no excuse not to click onto the voting page and check the names of the people who you believe will be best for the job.
With little to no cost to yourself, you can make your voice heard in a deliberation that absolutely will affect your campus experience. MSA works more closely with students than any other governing body, and it offers a direct connection between students and the University administration. It not only can create policies that reflect your needs but can also serve as a forum for your own causes. If you feel that it fails to accomplish this, then your first step in improving MSA is voting for the members who compose it.
Thus, casting your vote isn’t merely a means to show confidence toward those you choose on the ballot. More importantly, it’s a means of holding them accountable. It’s the basis on which any of their actions (or inactions) may be exposed and challenged. Not voting means that you’ve opted out of this process altogether.
Information about all those running for a position is also online, and within minutes you can learn enough about each of the candidates of your school to make an educated decision. Platforms for all those running with the MForward Party can be easily accessed at www.MForward.org.
While I do hope that you vote for MForward and the values that we represent, most importantly, I want you to vote. Period. Elections begin on Wednesday, March 23 and run until March 24, so please spare the 10 seconds it takes to add your voice to the campus community in a very real way. Whether or not you realize it, these are the types of precious seconds that will shape the collective legacy of this student body.
Brendan Campbell is the MForward vice presidential candidate. He is an LSA junior.